Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Anglo Tapes: Give us the %$%%$# moolah

The tapes that  have started a firestorm this week in Ireland do more than reveal the attitudes of the senior bankers involved in the destruction of Ireland's financial system during the 2008 financial meltdown.

They also show why the recommendations of the UK Parliament on legal standards of conduct for senior bankers should be implemented in all major countries.

Here is what is happening right now in Ireland:

Leaked tape conversations between Anglo executives as the crisis gathered pace have been published all week.
 They were recorded on the eve of the previous Irish government introducing the controversial €440 billion bank guarantee in September 2008.

In one discussion with a senior colleague, the troubled lender’s then chief executive Mr Drumm outlined his strategy for persuading the Irish Government to support a bank which was losing billions.

“Get into the f**king simple speak: ‘We need the moolah, you have it, so you’re going to give it to us and when would that be? We’ll start there’,” he said.

Ireland is reeling with shock at the contemptuous attitude displayed by these senior bankers, at the time that Ireland's dreams were being flushed down the toilet by such greed and boorishness.

Here's another take on the lessons to be learned:

A ludicrously well-paid elite double-crossed the rest of the population, effectively dismissing us as the great unwashed. And they sprung from among us.
 If we take one lesson from the Anglo Tapes, let it be this: stop blaming others for our problems and accept them as home-grown. Trouble generally starts on home turf, and that is where it needs to be dealt with. Until we face up to this truth, we will never build a society capable of functioning properly.

The unprincipled, devious, boorish, alpha male culture exposed by the recordings must be dismantled. I am not convinced it has been set aside yet. For all we know, it may be holed up for now, biding its time.

The epic machismo saturating those tapes was allowed to undermine the reputation of Irish people worldwide, and ravage the lives of Irish people at home.

How many have lost their jobs, homes and marriages in the fallout? How many have lost their lives, with suicides linked to the recession?

The executives we hear blaspheme, mock others and discuss manipulating the system for their own ends with casual indifference to any code of conduct are stereotypical – so cliched that listeners might almost imagine they are satirising their profession. It reaches cartoon-level masquerading – they sound like pimply adolescents behind a bike shed, passing round a cigarette and boasting about their mythical exploits with the opposite sex.

No one could take them seriously with their guffawing and snorting, tossing off billions here and billions there – except that it was deadly serious then and remains deadly serious.

Maggie Thatcher once spoke of the unseemly face of capitalism, when some businessmen treated moral issues cavalierly. The Anglo Tapes show that our international banking system also has an unseemly face, right now, right here.

And the system needs fixing.

1 comment :

  1. The Irish government had a choice. It could guarantee depositors' accounts and simply let the banks fail, letting the Brit bondholders take the loss they deserved, or it could make good the speculators' deserved losses by putting the burden on the shoulders of the Irish people. The government proceeded to safeguard the speculators and betray the public.

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